Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Perfect Spring Dinner

Now that it's spring, what better way to celebrate than to head to Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see the cherry trees in bloom. Admission is free on Saturdays if you can manage to get there before noon. So last weekend after our hearty breakfast of eggs and ramps, we biked down to the BBG. Well I thought it would be mostly downhill. I'm not sure why, except that going south always seems like it should correspond with going downhill. Little did I know that it would actually be uphill most of the way on Washington Ave to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I guess that would be why they call it Prospect Heights. I was huffing and puffing, and the hill seemed to have no end, with just ten minutes to go before noon. But we managed to make it with minutes to spare. And it was worth it to see tons of pink cherry trees in full bloom.

I particularly liked the culinary beds, to indulge in fantasies of my own vegetable garden. I think swiss chard is such a pretty plant, with its bright colors and shiny leaves.

I also liked the garden paths winding around a pond with Japanese sculptures, lined with elegant weeping cherry trees, willows, and Japanese maples, complete with cute turtles sunbathing on rocks!

There weren't a lot of flowers out this early in the spring, but there were pretty tulips.

I'd like to go back later in the summer to see how the garden changes with the seasons, to enjoy more colorful flowers, and to see how the vegetables and herbs in the culinary beds have grown.

Later that night we enjoyed a great dinner that felt so wonderfully springy because I was lucky enough to find the first asparagus of the season at the Greenmarket the day before. I snapped the tough ends off the asparagus, rolled them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then roasted them for 10 minutes at 400. Meanwhile, I let some quinoa simmer away while Jesse pan-fried thin flounder filets in olive oil and seasoned them with salt pepper.

To top it off, I mixed up an herb mayonnaise using garlic, lemon juice, and some parsley from my urban garfunkel garden. I'm not a big fan of quinoa. Although Jesse loves it for its high protein content, and we often substitute it for pasta or rice for that reason, I think it has a dull soft taste that can sometimes ruin a dish. But with a dollop of lemony fresh mayonnaise, the quinoa was transformed into something I could enjoy. And that is something to cheer about.

We enjoyed dinner with cold mugs of Wiesen Edel-weisse beer. It cloudy wheaty bright taste, great for warm spring or summer days, was the perfect complement to our meal.

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